How to Make a Macchiato Like a Pro (+3 Delicious Recipes)

Coffee is widely consumed worldwide and has become more than just a drink. It is now a culture, a means of social interaction, as seen in most Western European and North American countries. Coffee goes at any time of day and in different settings.

Coffee with friends, coffee for work, coffee alongside snacks, coffee after dinner, and even coffee on the go. It is, therefore, no surprise that there are so many variations of coffee as enthusiasts constantly seek new and exciting ways to enjoy their favorite beverage.

Some variations, like the cappuccino and espresso, are more popular than others, like the macchiato. So, what is a macchiato, and can you make it yourself?

What is a Macchiato?

Do you wish to expand your coffee palate, but some of the names on the menu mean nothing to you? The macchiato is not a popular coffee variation, and it is wise to try to understand more about it before taking any chances. 

In the most basic definition, a macchiato is an espresso with a dash of foamy or frothy milk. It is also known as espresso macchiato or caffé macchiato. The name is of Italian origin, which loosely translates to marked, stained, or spotted. This describes the mark the milk leaves when you add it to the dark and rich espresso.

Usually, the amount of milk added is just enough to slightly lighten the color of the coffee while allowing the espresso to shine through. It is a great choice of coffee for those who find the espresso flavor overwhelming and that of a cappuccino to be too weak.

There are different variations of the macchiato, but they all combine the power and boldness of a straight espresso shot with the creaminess of a cappuccino. Usually, what sets them apart is how much of each ingredient is used in the preparation.

Origins of the Macchiato

The birth of macchiato is thought to be a phony ‘macho’ move by Italian men who could not bear the stigma associated with ordering a cappuccino, considered a child’s drink. Yet, they needed a bit of milk in their espresso because they could not tolerate the bitterness of the espresso.

According to Italian culture, the notion was that a cappuccino was the coffee to start your morning, and ordering it after midday indicated you were less than a man. This stigma holds to date.

The stigma aside, not everyone likes espresso without milk. However, they still wanted to enjoy it, so between 1920 and 1930, the idea of adding a dollop or two of milk foam into an espresso was born. Customers began asking for their espressos to be ‘stained’ or ‘marked’ using white milk foam.

In Italy, cappuccinos are traditionally consumed in the morning but are considered too creamy and sweet to drink in the afternoon. Instead, a macchiato is considered more suitable as an afternoon coffee choice.

What Ingredients Will You Need


Milk rich in protein and fat is preferred since it helps enhance the flavors of the espresso. Additionally, milk contains galactose, a type of sugar that gives it a natural sweetness with little effect on insulin receptors. Whole milk is, therefore, the best for making macchiato.

In Italy, part of the milk is usually replaced by cream, which creates particularly rich foam. Lactose-intolerant individuals can use lactose-free milk or even non-dairy alternatives.

Dark roast coffee beans

You can make espresso from any roast coffee, but dark to medium roast coffees are often preferred. This is because they tend to produce a rich and bitter flavor that most espresso lovers are after in their cups.

Filtered water

It is often said that the quality of water used to brew will affect the end quality of your coffee. Filtered water is recommended since it has less mineral content allowing it to take more from the taste and flavor of the coffee.

Necessary Accessories and Equipment

  • Coffee grinder
  • Espresso machine/Mocha pot
  • Steam wand
  • Steaming pitcher
  • Serving cup

How is a Macchiato Made?

There is no standard way to prepare macchiato. What matters most is the ratio of milk to espresso used. If you do not get the quantities right and add too much milk, you may end up with something more resonant to a latte or a cappuccino.

The goal as you prepare a macchiato is to try to preserve the bold flavor of the espresso while adding a delicate and subtle touch of sweetness with a splash of milk.

Usually, a single shot of espresso is poured into a small espresso cup, and then a dash of warm, frothed milk is added. Some brewers will use a fine foam layer, while others will use microfoam.

The steps followed include:

  • Brew a shot of espresso using your preferred brewing method and serve it in an espresso cup
  • Heat and froth the milk. You can do this two ways: using the espresso machine with a steamer or heating the milk in a pan or a microwave until it reaches 60-68°C, and then foam it using a milk frother. If you do not have a frother, put the milk in a jar with a lid and then shake it like crazy to create foam, or use a French press and plunge the pump 10-15 times.
  • Once your frothed milk is ready, scoop out about six spoons of the milk, targeting the frothiest part, and pour it on top of the espresso. It should amount to just about half an ounce to slightly stain the espresso.

How to Make a Macchiato At Home

If you fancy macchiato so much that you would like to make it whenever the good news is that you can easily make it at home. The first skill you will need to master is how to prepare the perfect espresso.

While most homes today have a coffee machine, you do not need fancy tech or complex gadgets to prepare a good macchiato. If you do not own an espresso machine and are not ready to invest in one, then a Moka pot will work fine.

Grind your coffee, measure the right amount, and add it to the Moka pot with some water. Place the kettle on the stove and allow the espresso to brew. In the meantime, start preparing your milk by boiling it and then frothing it. When you have created enough froth or foam, pour it into the espresso and enjoy.

Types of Macchiato 

  • Espresso macchiato – Also known as caffé macchiato, and is the classic form of macchiato. 
  • Latte macchiato – This is a reversed espresso macchiato. It is primarily made of milk, and then espresso is used to stain it. It is often served in a tall glass as a layered espresso drink. It is an Americanized variation of macchiato, which is all about milk and flavorings.
  • Caramel macchiato – Includes steamed milk, followed by foamed milk, two shots of espresso, and then caramel sauce. It is perfect for those with a sweet tooth.
  • Iced macchiato – Prepared using espresso shots and whole milk and served over ice to make a cool drink for those hot days.

Must-Try Macchiato Recipes 

Traditional Macchiato Recipe

What will you need?

  • 2 oz. espresso
  • 1 oz. steamed milk


  • Brew a shot of espresso using about 16.5 grams of grounded coffee.
  • Steam the milk just until the pitcher feels warm. Do not let it get too hot, as the milk has begun to burn.
  • Add about half an ounce of the steamed milk, enough to stain it, into your shot of espresso.

Iced Caramel Macchiato Recipe

What will you need?

  • A shot of freshly brewed espresso
  • Your preferred choice of milk
  • Vanilla syrup
  • Caramel source
  • Ice 
  • Serving glass


  • Add vanilla syrup and ice to your serving cup, then pour cold milk.
  • Add your two shots of espresso over the milk and stir to ensure an even mix, then top it with a caramel drizzle.
  • For extra sweetness, you can add some whipped cream on top. You can also make a warn variation without the ice. Just add vanilla syrup at the bottom of your glass, steam milk and pour it into the glass, then slowly add one shot of espresso and drizzle some caramel sauce on top.

Latte Macchiato Recipe

What will you need?

  • Two oz. of whole milk or froth-friendly non-dairy alternatives like oat and almond milk
  • Two shots of hot espresso
  • 1-2 tablespoons of flavored syrup (optional)


  • As you’re your espresso brews, prepare your fluffy milk foam. Heat the milk slightly to sweeten it and make it easier for it to froth. Any frothing method you prefer will be just fine.
  • Pour the frothed milk into a tall glass and give it a few seconds to settle before adding the espresso. Pour the espresso down on the side of the glass to create an attractive layer over the frothed milk.

Tricks and Tips worth Knowing About Brewing Macchiato

  • Always use whole milk to get the best results since it foams better. Non–dairy alternatives like oat milk can also be used.
  • The espresso shot determines how good your macchiato will be. Therefore, to get great-tasting macchiato, focus on making quality and flavorful cappuccino.
  • A grinder is an essential tool for any coffee enthusiast, so if you are grinding beans, make sure to use a burr grinder.
  • To keep your drink hot, heat the serving cup by adding hot water and discarding it before adding your espresso shot.
  • If you like to add sugar to your coffee, consider using a darker roast first. They tend to have a natural sweetness from the caramelization that occurs when roasting the beans. You may realize that you do not need sugar in your coffee after all.

Final Thoughts

Macchiato is possibly one of the easiest types of coffee to prepare. It can also be your go-to coffee if you want the hit of caffeine without the milkiness of cappuccino or the bitterness of the espresso.

Hopefully, this article has given you enough insight to try out the macchiato or, better still, become good at preparing it the right way.

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Nathan is the founder of The Darkest Roast (featured in the NY Times, Yahoo, and Tasting Table). He is a self-taught coffee expert and has tried 100s of coffees from around the world. Nathan's goal is to help you find the best coffee, so you only drink the best.